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For a Valentine's gift that is different, try a bottle of wine

By Staff
Feb. 13, 2002
The same old heart-shaped box of candy for Valentine's Day has probably worn out its welcome at your house, particularly if you've been married for a number of years. It's great if you're still in years one, two or three, but beyond that a little imagination will pay bigger dividends if you know what I mean.
Flowers are nice, but a really eye-catching bouquet may require a loan from your favorite bank. The same is true of a dozen roses, admittedly the floral language of love, but those too can be a little pricey. In addition, don't overdo a good thing. Save the roses for a time when you're really in trouble. They are one of the best pacifiers I know. Take it from someone who has been there, done that.
Instead of flowers or candy, use your imagination and do something very different. Buy her a good bottle of wine and be prepared to spend a lovely evening at home.
Expect to spend from $10 to $25. You might pick up a Valentine's Day card to hang around the bottles' neck. Now all you need to know is the type of wine she prefers  a nice chardonnay, a white zinfandel, a white burgundy, a red burgundy, or a smooth-as-velvet merlot. Don't forget the cabernet sauvignons, the zinfandels, the shiraz from Australia. In the world of wine, there is something for everyone.
A few suggestions. Guenoc's chardonnays are truly lovely, fine-balanced flavor just a little bit on the citrus side. They have several levels of quality but their North Coast brand is the one most commonly found here. It should be priced around $15.
One of the best chardonnays I tasted last year was the Chateu St. Jean Belle Terre, a remarkable white wine for under $25. And as usual, the Landmark Overlook is highly recommended. The Wine Spectator rated it at 92 points on the 100-point scale and, believe me, that is very high. It will be about $25.
Lower priced chardonnays of quality include Meridian, Columbia Crest and Murphy Goode.
If your lady likes the sweet taste of a white zinfandel there is nothing better than the Beringer. It's not my kind of wine but it is as good as white zinfandels get.
Merlot is always a major favorite with women because they like the softness and flavor of that particular grape. The problem is there is so much bad merlot because of demand with no regard to quality.
Dollar spent for value received, we recommend Columbia Crest Merlot Estate produced in the state of Washington and a staple in most package stores. Most wine experts rate it about 88 to 92 on the 100-point scale and my own rating is an 89. The cost should be in the $20 to $22 range, maybe slightly more or less depending on the store. They have a lesser wine, the Columbia Crest Grand Estates which sells for about $13. While not as rich as the other, it is still a lovely bottle of wine for the price.
Other recommended merlots include Stags Leap, about $25 and Aresti Montemar Reserve merlot from Chile, rated 87 but selling for only about $10-$12.
Red zinfandels are wonderful, rich, packed with flavor and unusually smooth with little tannins. Any of the Karly wines are outstanding. They have four different versions on the Meridian market ranging from about $16 to $25. Their Pokerville is perfect for the woman who has not drunk much red wine. Their Warrior Fires is great for the more knowledgeable who like a wine with more pronounced flavors.
Rabbit Ridge zinfandels are also found everywhere. Their Barrel Cuvee is a bargain at about $12. The Sonoma County is their better wine and it sells in the $18 neighborhood.
As for cabernet sauvignon, there is so much from which to choose it is difficult to spotlight just two or three. You can't go wrong with St. Supery ($24), Wild Horse ($21), Robert Mondavi but only the Napa bottling, not the Coastal. The Napa is a lovely bottle. The Coastal is very ho-hum. You'll pay about $26 for the Napa.
Any of the Rosemount wines from Australia are bargains. Their cabernet, their shiraz, their blends, their chardononnay all sell from $9 to $13. If you want to buy a classic, get Rosemount's Coonawarra Valley cabernet sauvignon. One of the best wines on the market today for under $25.
These are only a few suggestions. Remember all prices are approximate. They can vary widely from store to store.
Happy Valentine's Day for you and yours tomorrow. Believe me, a good bottle of wine will make it even happier.